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THOMSON, V.: Plow that Broke the Plains (The) / The River (Post-Classical Ensemble, Gil-Ordonez)

Composer(s):Thomson, Virgil
Artist(s) Gil-Ordonez, Angel, Conductor • PostClassical Ensemble, Ensemble
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Film and TV Music
Catalogue 8.559291
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
Album Price
USD 6.99


Pare Lorentz’s The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1937) are landmark American documentary films.* Aesthetically, they break new ground in seamlessly marrying pictorial imagery, symphonic music, and poetic free verse, all realized with supreme artistry. Ideologically, they indelibly encapsulate the strivings of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’. Virgil Thomson’s scores for both films are among the most famous ever composed for the movies. Aaron Copland praised the music for The Plow for its “frankness and openness of feeling”, calling it “fresher, more simple, and more personal” than the Hollywood norm. He called the music for The River “a lesson in how to treat

*Available from Naxos on DVD (2.110521)



Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

Virgil’s Thomson’s scores for the two American documentary films, The Plow that Broke the Plains (evoking the American ‘Dust Bowl’) and The River (making a spectacular case for flood control), are among the most deservedly famous in film history, and this is the first time they have been recorded in their entirely. Each is constructed in a series of musical vignettes, quoting cowboy songs, popular and patriotic melodies, nursery tunes, folk music and even jazz; but composed music also intervenes to create atmosphere and accompanies the final scenes and are presented here in sequence, rather than seamlessly, very well played and recorded. Excellent notes too.


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